CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WRIC) — Scientists at the University of Virginia have received a $3.7 million federal grant to support research into clean energy technologies. 

Associate chemistry professor Sen Zhang, chemistry professor T. Brent Gunnoe, associate professor of chemistry Charles Machan and assistant professor Huiyuan Zhu’s research on understanding the electrolysis process at the atomic and molecular level could move science closer to a process that would allow for the development of green hydrogen from carbon-free energy sources like solar power and water. 

During remarks at UVA’s new chemistry building on Thursday, U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm said the funding aims to reduce the cost of clean hydrogen so we could potentially “be able to arrive at net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 [with] 100% clean energy, which is the administration’s goal, by 2035,” according to a press release from UVA.

The award is part of a package of over $540 million in funding for research led by universities and national laboratories that will create a strong scientific foundation for meeting President Biden’s goal of creating a net-zero emissions economy by the year 2050, according to an announcement about the award.

A press release said the federal award complements investments UVA is making through its Grand Challenges Research Initiatives. The university’s own initiative includes a $60 million investment that supports cross-disciplinary research initiatives aimed at bringing new perspectives to climate-driven challenges and developing innovative clean-energy technologies and sustainability strategies.